They fear being misidentified
Do you identify as a gay man? Have you ever wondered if your voice broadcasts your sexual orientation? Ever try deepening it to avoid discrimination?
Well guess what – you wouldn’t be alone. New research suggests that people change their voices all the time because they fear being stereotyped and harassed.
But here what you might not know. Straight guys seem to be really worried about it.
Investigators from the University of Surrey, Instituto Universitario in Portugal and University of Padua in Italy, explored whether straight, gay, and lesbian men and women believe their voice is an indicator of their sexual orientation to others and their desire for it to be disclosed.
Sampling 241 men and women (heterosexual, homosexual and lesbian) researchers learned that men believed their voices are more revealing of their sexual orientation than women, indicating that stronger stereotypes about gay voice exist for men than women.
As part of this study, investigators learned that straight men, who perceived themselves as more masculine sounding than gay men, wanted their voice to identify their sexual orientation when meeting someone for the first time.
Because they fear being “misidentified”, investigators discovered some of these (heterosexual) individuals modify (deepen) their voices.
Dr Fabio Fasoli, Research Fellow at the University of Surrey, said: “What we have learnt in this study is that individuals share stereotypes about voice as an indicator of sexual orientation. Fears of discrimination and being subject to unwanted stereotyping may lead people to alter their voice, in particular men trying to sound more masculine to conform to social norms.
“It is disappointing that in 2018 stereotypes about masculinity/femininity persists and fears of being misidentified/identified as gay and lesbian still exists. This may explain why a person feels the need to alter how they present themselves.”
The study appears in Journal of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences.